Sunday, April 18, 2010

73.) Worries

Soundtrack Song - Puddle of Mudd, Blurry

The drive to the airport wasn’t long, but it felt that way. It felt long, and awkward, and I didn’t know what to say to Jo now because of the things I had said to her earlier. I hadn’t intended to share that with her, but then again things don’t always go the way I want them to do. It just... happened, between watching that stupid show, and then opening my big mouth, so when she asked I couldn’t lie. It’s a good thing Mom showed up when she did, though. I didn’t know how I was supposed to talk about this to Jo, but now I wasn’t sure if I could avoid it any longer.

It killed me, not knowing what was going through her head at this moment and what she thought about me now. How was I supposed to be strong for her and help her through everything she was still dealing with, when I had my own struggles? All those worries had been buried deep down. I hadn’t been confronted with those concerns in a while because I had been so concerned with Jo that she had served as a distraction... but those worries had just sort of bubbled up to the surface at that moment.

Jo was silent, too, and it drove me nuts as I wondered why. Did she think less of me now? Respect me less? Love me less?

When we turned off the road toward the airport, I pointed the car toward the short-term parking lot, but she said, “Just drop me off, Kris.”

“But I wanna see you off,” I replied, feeling disappointed.

“Your mom is waiting for you to get back home. And you know me... I’m not really good with goodbyes, so I want to just make this quick.” As I pulled up the drop-off area, she moved closer to me in the truck and spoke quietly. “I’m gonna miss you, and I really don’t wanna go right now. If you need anything, or if you just wanna talk, you call me, okay?” she instructed with a pointed glance, making it very clear about what she intended for our topic of discussion. She tucked a section of my hair behind my ear and then cradled my neck. “Whatever you need, it’s yours. I love you so much, Kris. Have fun with your mom, and enjoy the rest of your break.”

She pressed her soft, plump lips against mine, and I instantly felt better. Kissing her back for a second, I then told her, “I love you, too. Call me when you land, ’kay?”

“’Kay,” she breathed, a sad smile on her lips. “See you soon.”

“Yeah, see you,” I replied, watching as she grabbed her bag and slipped out of the truck, blowing me a quick kiss as she closed the cab door and then disappeared among the throngs of people. I’d wanted to take her inside, help her check her bag, and kiss her at the security gate, but she was right. Goodbyes weren’t easy for her, or me. It was better this way.

Jo was swallowed up and carried away by the crowd. I was sad to see her go, but I didn’t dare ask her to stay in Montréal any longer. First of all, it was going to be awkward, just like our ride had been. Second, she probably would’ve flipped her lid and gone off about how she would be just fine alone and that I needed to stop worrying so much about her. But of course I couldn’t help but worry; she obviously wasn’t at one hundred percent, and if she needed anything in the next week, I wouldn’t be there to be able to give it to her. And third, Mom was really looking forward to the rest of my break to catch up with me. She’d taken vacation days from work and everything, so she’d be less than thrilled that she wouldn’t have all of my attention.

I sighed and groaned as I pulled the truck back out into traffic and headed home. As soon as I set foot back in the house, Mom began to fill me in on all the family gossip that she hadn’t been able to tell me before. I listened to her go on and on, playing the role of dutiful son even though I didn’t really care.

It was a couple of hours after dinner when I finally heard from Jo, that she had landed. I excused myself from the conversation with Mom and Henrí to take the call out on the porch.

“Hey, so you made it back all right?” I asked her as I answered my phone.

“Two short flights and one long layover later, yeah. I’m in a cab on the way back to our apartment.”

“Good. Glad to hear it.” I heard a door open and close loudly, and I looked around to see where the noise had come from. I saw my Mom’s neighbor walk down the stairs into their driveway. I guess technically she was my neighbor, too, since this was my childhood home, but I didn’t remember her. Had the Martins moved? Surely Mom would have told me.

The woman turned, and it shocked me when I recognized her. Yeah, it had been years since I’d seen her, but she’d changed so much since then. She greeted me, “Allo, Kristopher.”

“Can you hold on a sec, Jo?” I said into the phone, and then I replied, “Allo, Julie. Wow! Ça fait longtemps.

“Uh, okay,” Jo told me over the phone.

Je sais,” Julie called. “Tu n'es presque plus à la maison. Mais tu es une grande vedette de hockey maintenant.

Quoi? Non, je ne suis pas une vedette.

“If you’re busy, Kris, I can call back,” Jo mentioned over the phone.

“No, just a sec, I promise,” I replied to my girlfriend.

Toujours le gars modeste. Tu n'as pas du tout changé, Kristopher. Je dois y aller, mais c'était agréable de te revoir.

C'était bien de te revoir aussi.

La prochaine fois que tu es en ville, viens faire un tour, on pourra jaser.

Oui, sans faute. Fais attention à toi.” Then I switched back into English as I spoke into the phone again. “Sorry about that, Jo. I ran into my neighbor.”

“Oh, okay. No biggie. If you need to go, I don’t want to hold you up.”

“No, she’s gone now.”

“Oh,” she breathed. “Well, I guess you have a lot of people to catch up with. You’re going to be busy over your break.”

I leaned against the banister. Was she being so short with me because she was mad I was talking to Julie? I didn’t want her to be mad, although jealousy was a good sign. “No, well, I hope to just take it easy. I should probably go back inside, but call me before you go to bed. I want to say goodnight.”

“You’re such a girl,” she giggled, forgetting all about my neighbor. “But I will. I’ll call you when I’m in bed, ready to fall asleep, and you can tuck me in. How does that sound to you?”

I told her that that sounded good, but that wasn’t quite what happened when she called. It was late in the evening, 11:30 when she finally called. I was lying in bed too, waiting for her call, because Mom had the entire day planned for us—breakfast, shopping, and then going to visit Mamie for lunch. In fact, I had almost given up that she’d call when my phone finally buzzed on the nightstand.

“Hey, Jo. I was wondering if you had forgotten about me.”

“No, I haven’t forgotten about you. In fact, you were on my mind all night. And now, I’m just lying here in this big, comfy bed, all alone... thinking about you.”

She sounded a little breathy, and I assumed she was yawning and tired. “Well, I don’t want to keep you on. You should get some sleep.”

“I’m not exactly feeling... tired, Kris.”

“Are you feeling okay?” I asked, now concerned that she maybe she was still sick. “Did you eat dinner?”

“Ugh, you totally just ruined the mood,” she groaned. What mood? “I snacked between flights. And I’m feeling fine.” I wasn’t sure what to say, so I kept quiet until she spoke again. “Big day tomorrow?”

“Yeah. It’s all planned out. Going to see Mamie, which’ll be fun, I guess. I barely got to see her over Christmas.”

“And that’s your grandmother, right?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah. My mom’s mom. Nicest old lady in the world,” I laughed. “If we would have had more time, I would’ve loved to introduce you to her.”

I could hear the humor in her voice. “Yeah, so we could stare at each other, right? Because I don’t know French, and I bet she doesn’t know English.”

“Eh, language doesn’t matter. She’d like you anyway.”

“You’re so optimistic, Kris, you really are. You only see the best in people.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

“A little naïve of you, maybe, but it’s one of the things I love about you. It’s what makes you such a good person.”

I sighed, figuring out exactly what she was doing. This was Jo, trying to be reassuring and comforting again, just like she had this afternoon. I sighed, wondering if she was saying just because she knew the thoughts I tried to suppress in my head. “Okay, okay, Jo, I hear you. You don’t need to say that every time we talk now.”

“I’ll say it all the time, as long as you still need to hear it. It’s like you see the best in everyone around you, except for yourself. When you’re obviously the best person I know. I don’t know what you’re so worried about, Kris, but I don’t think you need to be so worried about it. If you ever want to talk about it, I’m here for you.”

“Yeah, I know that,” I sighed. And I did know very well that Jo would be there for me no matter what. I think she proved that when she came up to Shippagan with me. But I didn’t want to put that pressure or expectation on her. She was sorting through her own issues at the moment, still dealing with grief and plus a lot of stress from school and everything, so I wouldn’t add my troubles on top of hers. That wasn’t fair to do that to her. “I’ve got a big day tomorrow, Jo, so I’m gonna get off the phone now.”

“Yeah, okay. Tell Mamie I say hi,” she joked, trying to lighten the mood up again.

“Sure thing,” I chuckled back. “I love you, Jo. Good night and sweet dreams.”

I hung up the phone, but the damage was already done; the thoughts that I had tried to put out of my mind were back at the forefront. It had been a debate I’d dealt with since I was old enough to understand it: nature versus nurture. How much do genes play a role in the person you become? Or is it all in how you’re raised?

I really tried not to think about it, but the more I tried not to think about it, the more I thought about it. Even though I had very few memories of my father, I remembered that night. But worse than that, I remembered my mom’s emotions, behaviors, and reactions for years after. She loved him, despite the way he treated her, and it was tough for her to adapt to living without him. I remembered all those late night conversations, between Mom and Mamie when I was supposed to be in bed. All those things I wasn’t supposed to hear. All those stories I wasn’t supposed to know.

Mom never talked about him because she didn’t want me to know the bad things—but it would have been impossible to mention the good without the bad, so she never mentioned him at all. She’d evade my questions about him and got rid of all the pictures of him. From that one night on, it really was just me and my mom. She kept her married name though, because it was my last name. Even thought it was just me and her, she wanted us to still to feel like a family.

Mamie was the only one who talked about him to me, when Mom wasn’t around. She wasn’t that forthcoming with information either, because she didn’t know a lot about my father. After all, it’s not like he was her son.

I wished that it was easier to get answers, because I felt like I didn’t understand half of me, where I came from, and what I would become. Don’t people say that you grow up to be just like your parents? So wasn’t I destined to be like him? Right now, he was role model, to show me the kind of person I didn’t want to become. I did everything I could think of to not be like him. I didn’t drink. I tried to be considerate of the people around me. I actually cared about the feelings of the people around me, so I did nice things for them instead of hurt them.

Rolling onto my side, I sighed and adjusted the pillow beneath my head. It was going to be a long, sleepless night.

10 comments:

  1. Jay, you're on a roll.

    Kris and Jo are being way too considerate of each other, both trying to look after the other and not sharing their problems. Obviously they can't hear me screaming at them to be more selfish!
    And to compound that, new people like Dave and Julie keep appearing to worry me. Since Kris didn't recognize Julie and he already said she wasn't attractive, I am assuming that she looks better now. Of course Kris is too innocent to notice when women are interested or interesting so we don't get to hear how she looks.
    Comme d'habitude, your knowledge of the psychology of people is unreal.

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  2. So I just read up to like chapter three or something like that, but I just wanted to let you know here, in a recently updated post, one whose comments I know you'll see, that I love this. And I love Kris's analytical nature partially because I've had an experience before where I know that if I had made a different dicision, I would have been in a terrible car crash. And when I say terrible, I mean three cars smashed together to look like one. I also love this analytical nature of his because it suits him so well.
    I also wanted to say that I love all of your stories and that you're an amazing writer. Best stories I have ever read, hands down.
    Anyway, I love this story after only reading three chapters. Expect to hear from me some more. :)

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  3. Ohh I hope their internal battles don't drive their relationship apart... relationships are based on trust and communication and right now Kris needs to be VERY honest with Jo. And Julie? Well she can just be shipped off to Gaspesie.

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  4. @India - bahahaha, love your comment!

    I think their time apart will be good for them actually...I don't want them to have any flings, tho, so can I just ask for "no flings" please?

    Maybe Dave and Julie could meet up?

    Fabulous, as always!

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  5. bahaha, I smiled so big when Jo was trying to have a sexy moment with him on the phone and it sailed right over his head. Innocent, innocent Kris :)

    I just really wish he would stop being so selfless. No one can date a martyr and have it work out. I'm just sayin'.

    Great chapter!

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  6. I have no clue what the French dialogue was about, but this Julie chick better not fuck anything up.
    I hate that Jo and Kris are playing it so safe...
    PS. I never noticed that quote/blurb at the bottom. Who's it from?

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  7. "Did she think less of me now? Respect me less? Love me less?"
    ^^ Oh Kris... you're breaking my heart! This was so sad! I mean, I can see why he feels like that but really... he's so sweet! He could never be anything but kind. Maybe a little pushy at times but he always has Jo's best intentions at heart.

    “Two short flights and one long layover later, yeah. I’m in a cab on the way back to our apartment.”
    ^^ OUR apartment <3. I love it! I mean, it shouldn't make me as giddy as it does but... it's totally doing just that.

    "I replied to my girlfriend"
    ^^ I don't like it. I don't like it one, little, bit.
    I mean, maybe I'm over reacting but... BACK ON OFF HIM BITCH! She didn't even do anything but... ugh! And there's just something about the way he says like - he didn't recognize her cause she looked different - and then how he reiterates to himself, that he's talking to his gf.
    UGHHHHHHH stupid none Jo-girl...!

    Anyway, I still loved it! You made me giddy and angry so... obviously it was well written lol

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  8. Do I see Kris bringing up his father to his mother and having a talk about him??

    Ohh Kris haha Jo was trying to have sexy time through the phone and you didn't catch on to that one bit! Must be the french in ya! makes ya slow! JUST kidding.

    Jo can't be sassy about his family not speaking French. She knew what she was getting herself into!!

    Loving the updates, love the story as usual.
    <3

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  9. You are such an amazing writer!
    Case in point; After reading Mini-Breakthrough I watched Sunday's game and found myself thinking how much Kris had overcome to be where he is. Then realized I was thinking about how much YOUR Kris went through. I'm addicted to this story.

    Just insert Zigh's comments here and it will save a lot of time.
    Although I'm not worried about Kris cheating. He loves Jo and wouldn't do that to her. Moreover he couldn't do that to himself, it's against his moral compass.

    As always thank you for sharing.

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  10. Oh my God, sweetie. Become a writer. Right now, GO!

    You're an amazing writer! I actually stumbled upon your Sidney fic first and read through that and then discovered your Max fic and read through that in literally three days when I was sick in bed. I found this one last, which I must say, is you most emotional and powerful!

    I'm in love with all your stories, keep it up girlie!

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